The very nature of youth orchestras means that each summer we say goodbye to our older members as they leave to take up their places at university and music conservatoire. We then wait with some curiosity to see who will request an audition for the new academic season. Membership of the Wessex Youth Orchestra is subject to a short audition. To request an audition, applicants should be of the following playing levels:
String players - grades 6-8+ *
Woodwind, brass and percussion - grades 7-8+*
* We understand that not all students use the graded system, however all applicants should be of the equivalent playing level, and if you do use the exam system, it should be understood that you will be expected to have taken and be moving on from the minimum required exam grade, before applying.
All applicants should have passed or have the equivalent knowledge of a pass at grade 5 music theory.
Following the COVID19 Lockdown earlier this year, we continue to await news on when the WYO and CWYM will be able to resume music-making.But so as to be ready to resume WYO activities as soon as circumstances permit, new member auditions (in the form of video submissions) will take place in September 2020. Further auditions for any remaining vacancies will continue throughout the year.
What should you prepare for your 2020 WYO audition? Due to current social distancing requirements, this season's auditions will be via video submission. Candidates will be expected to play a well-prepared piece - either with contrasting sections (displaying both your fast and slow playing) or alternatively – two short contrasting pieces. If you don't have a pianist to hand - that is fine! We are happy to hear candidates perform unaccompanied. In place of orchestral sight-reading this year, candidates will instead be asked to prepare short pre-set orchestral excerpt/s - copies of which will be sent to you (along with information on how and when to submit your audition recordings), once your application for audition has been accepted. Candidates should also include two scales of your own choice - according to what you are presently studying.
The WYO Director is particularly keen to hear well-prepared performances showing secure intonation, a good sense of rhythm and dynamic range.
String players will be expected to perform with vibrato, demonstrate clear articulation, and should be comfortable playing from all clefs appropriate to your own instrument (for further details - see below).
Wind and brass players will need to demonstrate an immediacy of tone, and ability to move around the instrument’s range with clear articulation and accuracy.
Percussionists should prepare a rhythmic study, and another piece on tuned percussion (if you wish to be considered for tuned parts) or two untuned pieces. If you need to use a specific WYO percussion instrument for your audition, please let us know in advance so we can ensure that it will be available on the day. Please remember to bring your own sticks!
Whilst an audition may seem a little daunting to prospective new WYO members, we keep it as informal as possible. After all, becoming a member of the Wessex Youth Orchestra is a positive experience, and we wouldn’t want to start it with a negative one! If you join the “Wessex”, you’ll be following in the footsteps of 1000s of young musicians before you… so what are you waiting for?!
2020-21 Season Current WYO Vacancies (as of August 2020):
1st violins (grades 7-8+) – 4 spaces
2nd violins (grades 6-7) – 4 spaces
violas (grades 5-8+) – 4 spaces (CWYM instruments available for loan - creating the opportunity for violinists to try the viola - an alternative way to join the WYO)
cellos (grades 6-8+) – 4 spaces
double basses (grades 5-8+) – 3 spaces
flute/piccolo (grades 8+ only) – 1 space
oboes (grades 6-8+) – 2 spaces (doubling)
clarinets (grades 7-8+) – 3 spaces
bassoons (grades 6-8+) – 2 spaces (doubling)
French horn (grades 6-8+) – 3 spaces
trumpet (grades 7-8+) – 2 spaces
trombone (grades 6-8+) – 2 spaces
tuba (grades 6-8+) - 1 space (doubling)
percussion (grades 6-8+) – 2 spaces
harp (grade 6-8+) – 1 space
Orchestral Playing Hints! Flautists – how is your piccolo playing? The piccolo is a vital part of the flute section’s sound. We are particularly keen to hear from flautists either with piccolo playing experience or who intend to start playing the instrument in the very near future. Saxophonists – the saxophone is not a standard orchestral instrument and as such, not all orchestral music requires a saxophone. This means that we are unable to offer permanent places to saxophonists. However, if an applicant plays another instrument as well as the sax to the required audition standard, we can look at the possibility of accepting the applicant on their alternative instrument and have them transfer to the sax as and when needed. Trumpeters – be prepared! Transposition will become an important part of your everyday orchestral playing. Not all trumpet parts are written for trumpets in Bb! Don’t forget all your theory – you’ll need it to be able to transpose successfully. Trombonists – which clef are you most comfortable playing from? Orchestral trombone music uses a variety of clefs – bass, tenor and the alto clef. The best way to learn these clefs is from playing in an orchestra, but you should have at least some understanding of how each of them work before you join. Violinists – if you have any viola playing experience, you should expect to audition on both instruments. If you have not played the viola before but are interested in taking it up, the CWYM is happy to lend violas free of charge to any CWYM member wishing to try out the instrument. Viola players – should be comfortable playing from both the alto and treble clefs! Cellists – don’t be surprised! You of course are used to playing from the bass clef and should by now have done some work on the tenor clef. But how is your treble clef?! It will happen! Again – the best place to practise using these higher clefs is in the orchestra, but make sure you have started work on them before you join so that you have a good chance of mastering them during rehearsals! Percussionists - you should be able to read from both the treble and bass clefs.